Saturday, July 4, 2015

Review: Noah's Boy by Sarah A Hoyt

Noah's Boy (Shifter Book 3) by Sarah A. Hoyt continues with Kyrie and Tom and their shifter friends as they must again assert themselves against older shifters, but what they don't know is that bigger baddies wait behind the proverbial curtain. This time, they learn about the origin of shifters and become uncomfortably intimate with the Great Sky Dragon's powers. The couple also comes to acknowledge the growing group of shifters that have become friends and allies over the past two books.

I enjoy how Noah's Boy adds a distinctive science fiction spin to this hitherto urban fantasy series. Everything we learn in this book brings tidbits in the first two books to life, giving that delicious feeling of aha! This new depth has the potential to carry the series through several more entertaining books.

The magic/science also adds further weight to the theme of self-agency that permeates the series, from ancient dragons demanding things to romance and sex. Oh, and on that note, there is a sex crime in this book, so, trigger warning for that. Sarah Hoyt realistically handles the issue, framing it as a violation of self-agency. Mixed in with this weighty issue is the question of what makes people human – but you'll have to read the book to learn how that comes up.

Rafiel's character gets a boost in Noah's Boy as well, and if you like how Tom and Kyrie have turned out, you'll enjoy this new pairing. Personally, I appreciate that Hoyt does not follow the typical love triangle plot, and that the two couples are also very different from each other.

Sarah Hoyt once again brings a complicated plot that draws together beautifully at the end, complete with dragon fire and viscous, ancient shifters. The character continue to be refreshingly strong through their principals and their self-awareness, which is something I don't often see in urban fantasy or adventure SF. I'm gunning for the next book!

Amazon ] [ Sarah A. Hoyt ]

Friday, June 19, 2015

Review: Gentleman Takes a Chance by Sarah A Hoyt

In Gentleman Takes a Chance (Shifter Book 2) by Sarah A. Hoyt, newly established owners of The George come up against other shifters who have come to investigate the deaths from the end of book one, Draw One in the Dark.

Kyrie and Tom know that they have a long road ahead of them, and that's just counting the everyday things – their not-quite-intimate relationship, their makeover of The George, and generally establishing themselves in a new town. In Gentleman Takes a Chance” the new couple get a chance the blossom in these roles, if they can keep busybodies from either blowing their cover or killing them. Oh, and if Tom can keep from breaking any more bathrooms in dragon form.

In book one, we met the Great Sky Dragon and the triad he controls. Gentleman Takes a Chance expands upon this while adding other ancient shifters who also think they have a say in Kyrie and Tom's lives. These ancient shifters claim that they care about the deaths Kyrie and Tom and their friends have caused, but they arrive conspicuously after the fact and do quite a poor job of investigating in the name of their simplistic and elitist laws. Kyrie and Tom note this as they assert their own moral code and their own version of events. In this way Hoyt neatly continues a theme of responsibility and agency that goes far beyond simply owning up to a superpower like shifting. If anything, Tom and Kyrie strive to hold themselves to the same standards as other humans, which is hard to do while seemingly all-powerful elders are taking deadly swipes at you.

The denouement surprises me. After an appropriately climatic battle at the end, there comes another battle, this one more private and less blow-by-blow. Having now read the third book, I can confirm what I suspected at the end of book two, that Hoyt is setting us up for a bigger plot with bigger bad guys.

A Gentleman Takes a Chance shows a lot of character growth while still bringing the reader plenty of action. In fact, I think book 2 outshines book 1 because of its superb balance of character growth and action. Hoyt fleshes out her theme of agency quite well in this coming-of-age narrative, providing a good backbone for the book 3, Noah's Boy.

Books 1 and 2 are also available as an omnibus titled Night Shifters. Wouldn't that look amazing on your shelf?

I jumped immediately into the third book, so look out for my review of Noah's Boy.




Amazon ] [ Omnibus ] [ Sarah A. Hoyt ]

Friday, April 24, 2015

Review: Draw One in the Dark by Sarah Hoyt

Draw One in the Dark (Shifter Book 1) by Sarah A Hoyt is an exciting, action-filled urban fantasy:

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Every one of us has the beast inside. But for Kyrie Smith, the beast is no metaphor. Since she was 15, when she first shape-shifted into a savage, black panther, Kyrie has questioned her humanity and moved from town to town, searching for a way to feel human again.

Kyrie's lonely life changes forever while waitressing at a cheap diner. Investigating screams from the parking lot, Kyrie stumbles upon a blood-spattered dragon crouching over a mangled human corpse. The dragon changes back into her co-worker, Tom, naked, dazed and unable to remember how he got there.

Thrust into a world of shape-shifting dragons, giant cats and other beasts waging a secret war behind humanity's back, Kyrie may find the answers she seeks—with help from Tom, a mythical object called the Pearl of Heaven, and her own inner beast.

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I absolutely love how Sarah Hoyt handles the love interests in this book. In so many urban fantasy books I see unhealthy relationships portrayed as normal - men who steal kisses and untrustworthy people who are given chance after endless chance. There is no enabling in this book because Kyrie does not take crap from anyone, especially not from men who are attracted to her.

I also love seeing characters take responsibility for their actions like Hoyt's characters do. I'd say more but I don't want to spoil anything!

Draw One in the Dark (Shifter Book 1) is a great fantasy with a lot going for it: thrilling action, murder mystery, a bit of romance, and unusual shifters. This gritty urban fantasy is a fast read with a YA/New Adult feel.


[ Amazon ] [ Sarah A. Hoyt ]

Friday, April 17, 2015

Review: "First Fleet #3: Descent" by Stephen Case

In "First Fleet 3: Descent," Case answers many questions about the Grave Worlds and the disappearance of the First Fleet, and in the process pulls all of the characters together into a thrilling crises on a Grave World cut off from the rest of humanity.

As we learn more about the monster who destroyed the First Fleet, Case's blend of hard science fiction and horror reminds me of Dan Simmon's style in the Hyperion Cantos. I get the feeling that many characters are going to die before, or because, they discover the true nature of their adversary.

Even as Case brings plot thread together and answers many of our questions, I can't imagine how the story arc could possibly wrap up in only one more novella. There will have to be mind-boggling surprises in the next installment, and I can't wait!

Once again, Case leaves me itching to read more. Are you addicted to First Fleet yet?

"Part 1: Bones" [ Amazon ]

“Part 2: Wake” [ Amazon ]

“Part 3: Descent” [ Amazon ]

and "Part 4" to be released later this summer.

While you're waiting for Part 4, you can read an essay by Stephen Case about writing First Fleet [ here ].

Monday, April 6, 2015

Review: "Sophronia L" by Tim Bridwell

Sophronia L. by Tim Bridwell brings the reader back to 19th century Americas, beginning off the coast of New England at a time when whaling is fading as the predominate method of obtaining oil, soon to be replaced by mountain drilling in Pennsylvania:

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Sophronia Lambert, a schoolteacher on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, lives a quiet life; that is until Nantucket whaling captain James Folger comes ashore. Realizing he is the man who killed her deaf brother, she decides to pursue vengeance – first at home, then at sea-sailing to the far side of the world as his bride. As she grapples with madness and morality, Sophronia’s quest mirrors that of her island community: to find a way forward amidst the pressures of a brutal industry, a nation mired in Civil War, and a past darker than the ocean’s abyss.




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When Sophronia Lambert elopes and joins the Eliza Jane as Captain Folger's wife, her uncle Keziah Lambert and her love interest, Absalom Cook, worry that she will be “lost at sea” as was her late brother, Jonathan. If Captain Folger doesn't murder her himself, Sophronia may fall victim to the mental illness that has plagued her since she found her mother dead at the hands of her father.

Growing up on the small island of Martha's Vineyard is surely poor preparation for the brutality of an all-male crew set on the bloody business of whaling, as it proved to be for Sophronia's brother, except that this Lambert comes knowing that her true nemesis is the Quaker Captain who obsesses over numbers and superstition.

Bridwell's vividly poetic style draws the reader deep into the horrors of the human heart, whether it be Sophriona and Captain Folger's mental illnesses, the sailors' chauvinistic savagery, or the bloody process of spearing and stripping the soulful whales. But like Bridwell's realistic characters, his dark themes are tempered by the other side of humanity; the sudden joys, small pleasures, and even love. In this way, Sophriona's journey on board the Eliza Jane is like a mental breakdown, where she is separated from the two people who understand and love her most as she traverses what for her are uncharted waters.

Sophronia L. boasts the descriptive language of Hemingway and the complex drama of Faulkner, taking readers on a haunting journey through Sophronia's mental illness, manifest through her obsession with Captain Folger's death. I would absolutely recommend Sophronia L. as a superb novel for those who enjoy literary and historic fiction.



You can get your copy of Sophronia L.at:

Find out more about Tim Bridwell at [TimBridwell.com]

Check out the publisher, [Folded Word], and leave a review of Sophronia L. on [Goodreads].